'Rapist' Limpopo pastor, who demanded congregants’ money, found guilty

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Mar 15, 2021

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DURBAN - A Limpopo pastor, who preyed on young girls and led his congregation to believe that God sent him to Earth to save them, has been found guilty of three counts of rape and common assault.

Pastor James Devine Thubakgale ran a church in Seshego in Polokwane, where he demanded that his congregation call him “Judge” because he was going to be a judge with God at the end of the world.

The National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson in Limpopo, Mashudu Malabi Dzhangi, said Thubakgale ordered congregants to bring him all their money, including their retirement savings, and the church respected, obeyed and took orders from the 58-year-old, as they believed that he was part of the holy trinity and was closest to God.

Dzhangi said church members would obey Thubakgale’s every command.

“He would target young girls who were under 16 years of age, who had shown committed to the word of God. He promised them marriage, telling them that it was God himself who wanted them to be married.

“He would then rape the girls at a lodge, in his motor vehicles and also in their rooms, which he rented for them.

“He threatened them that if they refused to either marry or have sex with him, God would punish them for disobedience, and there would be death and sickness in their families,” Dzhangi said.

If any member disobeyed Thubakgale, Dzhangi said he would scold them and call them witches, telling them they were possessed by evil spirits.

“He assaulted his victims in full view of other fellow congregants.

“The victims believed that the pastor was telling them the truth, and they would oblige, as they were promised that if they obeyed his orders, they would see heaven,” Dzhangi said.

The court heard that Thubakgale’s congregants did not report the incidents of abuse because they were afraid, allowing him to continue his reign of terror from 2010 until 2017.

“Judge Muller found Thubakgale guilty. Thubakgale was sentenced on September 30, 2020 by the Mankweng Regional Court for another case, to two life terms for two counts of rape of minor girls for the incidents that took place in 2011 and 2012. The case was postponed to March 24, 2021 for sentencing,” Dzhangi said.

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